City to sell winery property

SNOQUALMIE _ The old Snoqualmie Winery property

on Rattlesnake Mountain above Exit 27 has long been the subject of

plans, proposals and conjecture. Now, it appears a deal for the property is

imminent, one which would guarantee the site's permanency as open space.

The City of Snoqualmie recently revealed its plan for the

property, which involves the sale of the city-owned parcel to the Trust for

Public Land. The Trust will then sell the property to the U.S. Forest Service for

preservation as a component of the Mountains to Sound Greenway.

Needless to say, Greenway Executive Director Nancy Keith is

thrilled with the news of the impending land sale.

"In terms of completing the whole idea of the Greenway, this was such

a major development," she commented Tuesday. "To have lost this

property while gaining so much, in the context of a green, connecting corridor,

would have been tragic.

"It's almost a miracle. Nobody thought this would happen because

of the high development value of the property. Until things close we're

cautious, but now it's moving so quickly it's getting pretty exciting."

Keith expressed appreciation to the city for its hard work in conveying

the parcel. She also singled out the efforts of Sen. Slade Gorton, who worked

the funding through Congress.

"It's unique," she added.

"There's nothing like this view in eastern

King County. The whole landscape is beautiful in itself. We're really happy."

According to Snoqualmie Mayor R. "Fuzzy" Fletcher, about 110

acres will be sold, perhaps "imminently."

He added the city plans to retain about 8.5 acres for use as a park and

amphitheater, along with an additional 1.5 acres where the city has a water tank

and pumping station.

Fletcher declined to give the city's asking price for the land, but said

it was "more than $500,000."

"We've only talked about an exact dollar amount in executive

session," he stated Monday. "It's in

negotiation, but we've got all sorts of signed

documents that state it's going to the Trust for Public Lands and will remain

open space. I'm expecting the deal to close any day.

"We want to use the amphitheater and have concerts and whatever

else we can up there. We want the citizens to be able to use it and enjoy the

view. That's why we worked so hard to get it saved."

Once described in the Mountains to Sound Greenway newsletter

as "Â…one spot where the sweep of the green corridor is most visible in all

its diverse richness, from the craggy peaks of the Cascades to the

verdant valleys of the Puget Sound lowlands," the property has stood vacant since

the winery burned down in February 1999. While several groups

have worked toward its preservation as open space and a park facility, at

one point the land was set to become an office/industrial site.

The upcoming sale will complete the process of guaranteeing

public access to the park-like setting with uninterrupted views of the

Upper Snoqualmie Valley. As to suggestions that the city was selling the

property partly to balance its budget, Mayor Fletcher said that was not the case.

"As of right now, it is totally separate," he stated. "We didn't want

to count our chickens before they're hatched. The council has

earmarked the money for flood reduction projects."

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